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    South Korea plans to start shipping rice to Pyongyang June 30

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    TOKYO, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - South Korea will begin supplying North Korea with rice within the framework of Seoul's promised food aid to Pyongyang June 30, the country's unification minister said Tuesday.

    The first batch of 30,000 metric tons of rice will be delivered Saturday to North Korea by sea, the Yonhap news agency quoted Lee Jae-joung as saying

    Jae-joung added that Seoul would also send its inspectors to 20 districts in North Korea to make sure the rice reaches those who really need it and not the Army.

    The minister has consistently stressed that Seoul would not resume rice deliveries to North Korea until Pyongyang meets the demands put forward at the February round of the six-nation talks on North Korea's controversial nuclear program.

    Seoul made it clear earlier that it would cooperate with North Korea, and plans to supply 400,000 metric tons of rice as part of a 30-year $150 million loan, with a 10-year delay of payment.

    The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said previously that North Korea faces serious food shortages this year and will need an additional 500,000 tons of rice.

    Bilateral relations between the two Koreas were disrupted after Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in October 2006. Dialogue was resumed when North Korea agreed to stop its nuclear reactor and give International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors access to the country in a six-party agreement on February 13.

    However, North Korea had until now refused to implement an agreement reached February 13 in Beijing demanding the release of its $25 million in Banco Delta Asia (Macao), frozen following money laundering accusations from the United States.

    On Monday, North Korea pledged to start talks on nuclear disarmament with the United Nations nuclear watchdog, in line with a stalled February agreement, after confirming receipt of its previously frozen $25 million, transferred from the bank in Macao.

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